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Mozambique: Revisiting Chokwe 40 years later

Ezio Gianni Murzi | Xai Xai/Limpopo, Mozambique

Patients waiting to be visited at the Chokwe Rural Hospital

After much thinking, I decided to go back to Chokwe, Mozambique, where I had been working as a medical doctor, 1977-1981. My purpose was to reconnect with a place and to walk the memory lane. I would use my camera lens to shield me from intrusive and recurrent memories by framing them. I found that while the Rural Hospital was almost the same as I left it, except the addition of a functional operating theatre, another structure had been added to cope with the AIDS pandemic and the spread of tuberculosis, the Carmelo Hospital, a hospital fully dedicated to treat HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis patients, obtained by adapting an old nunnery. The Carmelo Hospital has a bakery, a child centre hosting AIDS orphans, and a kitchen serving two meals a day. Most importantly the hospital has social workers regularly visiting patients and families in their villages. While there, I reconnected to staff of my time, and visited them in their homes.

Returning to Chokwe some 40 years later let me touch by hand how HIV infection and the AIDS pandemic have changed the health services, both in sophistication and focus of care. Mortality among young adults is extremely high leaving behind orphaned children often ill with AIDS and tuberculosis. This is why in the early 90’s the catholic nuns, some where the same of forty years ago, cooperating with government counterparts decided to transform an old nunnery into a hospital fully dedicated to treating tuberculosis and HIV and AIDS. Besides the in-patient care nuns check on the health status of their patients monthly and provide food supplements and school notebooks. Attending one of these sessions is a unforgettable experience. A social worker would visit at home in their village those defaulting on their monthly check. Patients are re-admitted if necessary.

Ezio Gianni Murzi



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